The Making Room

Investigating innovative ways of sharing the creative process from start to premiere

Convening #2, columbus

october 21–24, 2016: sullivant hall, Osu

sittin' around talking.png

Seven months after the first convening Sue and Bebe meet at Ohio State for a three-day convening. Angie and Christal come to work with both choreographers again, along with Wendy Perron and Michelle Boulé, invited by Sue and Bebe, respectively. Angie and Christal both pick up where they’d left off last March, relearning Bebe and Sue’s dances with the help of video. Wendy has spent some time with Sue’s material. Although Bebe, Angie and Christal worked together in June they leave that material alone for the time being, in order to focus on their March duet. Michelle joins in for the ride, with both groups.

We start with a two-hour conversation, ranging from who had worked together previously, and when (Wendy and Sue started in 1975, Bebe and Michelle started three months before).

The session ended with a kind of walking/dancing history lesson. The collective wisdom in the room is astounding. Everyone brings rehearsal strategies and observations from a range of experiences. In particular, the room notes the cultural properties of, say, Philadanco, Nina Wiener, Urban Bush Women and others the six artists have worked with/ for/ around. As we finally form a loose standing circle, getting ready to move, Ishmael Houston-Jones and Fred Holland’s legendary Contact Improvisation duet from 1983 is brought up (“We are Black…We will talk to one another while dancing…We will fuck with flow and intentionally interrupt one another and ourselves”—Ishmael Houston-Jones).

We seem to recognize some potential in this moment, this gathering. From there we bloom outward into the room, working first with Sue’s dance, then with Bebe’s. Everyone dances.

Sue shares what she and Wendy have been working on, gestural sequences that will be multiplied and shared between us.

Next, Sue enlarges on Wendy’s movement, shaping a quartet.

Christal and Angie bring back their Sue duet from last March. Sue and Wendy discuss points of their newer sequence.

Sue thinks Angie and Christal should be, maybe, raunchier?

When they are shown on the last day the "finish" of it, the sheen of something known, becomes part of what has been put together fairly quickly. It Is This, It Is What It Is.Music by Christine and the Queens.

Bebe starts with Angie and Christal, adds Wendy and Michelle to the March duet. By staying close to the original form it becomes a quartet. Opinions and perspectives are shared in order to get going.

As we continue, the timing and cueing from one to another becomes the strategy for how decisions and alignments are made. Bebe’s implied question, What Is This?, hovers.

The showing is really a "working of..." Let’s say it’s a sharing of the process by doing the process out loud, so to speak. Music by The Fugees.

Neither of us will continue with these dances as quartets but both will feature the core material in each of our completed dances. Our emphasis for this convening was less on heading toward a finished work but heading toward what we see in front of us. We worked quickly, spontaneously. We did not spend as much time as we had before in describing our processes to each other, or describing each other’s processes to ourselves. Why not? Make a dance and move on.